Antioxidants ~ What are They and Why Do We Need Them?
How often are we asked, “Have you had your five servings of fruits and vegetables today?” I would say often and the average person would have to say “no.” So why is it so important?
Well, it seems the problem is oxidation and free radicals! What happens to an apple also happens inside your body. After one hour a cut apple shows noticeable cell damage from being exposed to oxygen. The apple treated with an antioxidant (vitamin C) stays fresh and undamaged. Harmful chemical substances called free radicals are the result of oxidation in your cells and may reduce your body’s ability to make healthy cells. Many scientists characterize this process as “aging”. Free radicals can be generated by polluted air, cigarette smoke, alcohol and medications, or they can come from the body’s own natural processes.
The solution to deactivate the free radicals….antioxidants...Vitamins C, E and A (one safe form of which is beta carotene), and the mineral selenium…nutrients that absorb free radicals and help make them harmless. Other antioxidants must “sacrifice” themselves to break the oxidation chain – that is why we constantly need to replenish the body’s antioxidant supply through our diet. Food sources include citrus fruits (vitamin C) yellow and green vegetables (beta carotene), and soybean oil (Vitamin E). As a team, the antioxidants help maximize cell defense!
Dr. Lester Packer, Ph.D. Dept. of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, states that antioxidants play a critical role in wellness, healthy maintenance, and the prevention of chronic and degenerative diseases. Although it is as simple as eating those five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, only 10% of the population takes even this simple step. He further states, “Preserving wellness and preventing disease is far less costly than treating diseases once they have developed.”
Eight out of ten doctors, according to Medical Tribune Poll, supplement their diets with antioxidants. Should you?